Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia

Society of Jesus.

RC order of clerks* regular; mems. are called Jesuits, a term that was long derogatory.

Stated purpose: salvation and perfection of mankind. Emphasis on obedience (including special obedience to the pope) is reflected in use of military language. Main work is in educ. (esp. higher educ.) and missions.

The Soc. of Jesus was founded by I. (of) Loyola*; he and 6 companions made the first vows 1534; canonical establishment came 1540.

Jesuits were prominent in the Counter Reformation (see Counter Reformation, 8–9). Opposition, arising perhaps partly out of envy of success, partly out of Gallicanism* and Jansenism,* partly out of resentment and a variety of other causes, led to suppression of the order 1773 everywhere except Russ., where it was favored by Catherine II (Catherine the Great; Ekaterina Alekseevna; Sophia Augusta Frederica of Anhalt-Zerbst; 1729–96; empress of Russ. 1762–96) and perpetuated itself with papal approval until it was restored 1814 (see also Bull; Popes, 25).

Supreme authority is in a gen. cong., which elects superior generals (who serve for life) and deals with some grave problems; the cong. met 31 times 1558–1965 (25 times for election). A provincial heads each province (10 in the US: Maryland; New York; Missouri; New Orleans; California; New Eng.; Chicago; Oregon; Detroit; Wisconsin). Official directives are in writings collectively called the Institute.

Training (reduced in time and made more flexible in recent yrs.) leads to membership consisting of priests, scholastics (students), and temporal coadjutors. All spend 2 yrs. in a novitiate (see Novice), preceded in the case of brothers by 6-mo. postulancy (see Postulant).

Worldwide there were ca. 35,000 Jesuits in 1970 (ca. 7,900 in the US: 5,000 priests, 2,500 scholastics, 650 temporal coadjutors). Nearly 3,000 priests and scholastics left the order 1965–70, including ca. 500 Americans. In 1960 four hundred were admitted, in 1967 only 149. In 1970, efforts by Jesuits in Sp. to splinter off in order to preserve “the true spirit” of the order were suppressed. MAM

See also Accommodation, 5; Jajus, Claudius; Paccanarists.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

Stay Connected! Join the LCMS Network:

Contact Us Online
(Staff Switchboard)
(Church Info Center)
1333 S Kirkwood Rd
Saint Louis, MO 63122-7226 | Directions


Featured Publication

The Lutheran Witness

LCMS Communications

Interpreting the contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.
Visit TLW Online